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GAY SEX FEAR AT CRACKLEY WOODS

Walkers are afraid to go to Crackley Woods alone because they believe men arrange to meet there for sex.

Several residents have spoken out this week of their fears. They say the woods have become a notorious spot for homosexual activity. The sight of men waiting around the trees is disturbing and threatening and they want it to stop.

Martin Davies, of Crackley Cottages, regularly helps cut back paths in the woods with a team from Warwickshire Wildlife Trust. One of his companions was recently followed home by another man in a car.

Mr Davies said: "This is not what we want - Crackley Woods are a nice place to visit.

"One of our lads was followed because he lingered a while in his car. Somebody assumed he was fair game. This was at 1pm. You wonder what is going through the people's minds who do this sort of thing.

"A lot of people I know wouldn't want to go to Crackley Woods on their own because of the nocturnal problems. It is a real nuisance."

Neighbour Gill Kirkham said: "I used to walk along the railway track on a regular basis but I never go there now.

"It has become an area where there are men lurking behind the bushes waiting for other men. It is very disturbing and threatening. You never quite know why they are there and if they might grab you. I once went in with a friend from Coventry and she was highly alarmed.

"It is unpleasant. It has put a lot of people off. If you are walking along an overgrown railway track and you see a man behind a bush, you feel uncomfortable, regardless what he is doing. And then 100 yards later there's someone else. You get so scared, you just turn around and go home."

Crackley Cottages resident Jo Rennison added: "The woods are now known as a gay cruising area.

"I have seen men just standing at various points of the path, as if waiting. You do feel uncomfortable. It is probably not a threat and there's not a lot the police can do. But I just won't walk there on my own."

She believes if people's attitude towards homosexuality improved, the problem would cease.

"If gay sex wasn't such a taboo, people wouldn't have to behave like this. But that will take several lifetimes."

Neighbour Jill Lole has not let it put her off walking in the woods.

She said: "I walk there anyway and just say hello if I encounter somebody. This is a fact of life and we are stuck with it, I am afraid. Crackley Woods is a beautiful place and it is a pity this sort of thing goes on. But you can worry yourself to death about all sorts. People are propositioned there, but generally the men keep themselves to themselves."

Warwickshire Police spokeswoman Cathy Ward said: "This has been an issue for many years. There are no reports of crime but we would want to hear of anything suspicious."

 
 
 

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